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After the August Maui fires, Anna Logan (pictured center) accompanied her lomilomi group Pa Iwa Ola (in black shirts) to offer healing touch to those affected.

Healing hands and coloring books: KS supports mental health efforts on Maui

Nov. 6, 2023

Lomilomi practitioner Anna Logan knew she needed to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally before traveling to West Maui. As a member of Pa Iwa Ola, a lomilomi clinic on Oʻahu, she headed to Kāʻanapali to serve community members affected by the August 8 wildfires.

A kapu wai ritual topped her list of to-dos.

“We knew it would be heavy,” Logan said. “We have to cleanse ourselves, so that we can be completely focused for this kind of healing.”

In the aftermath of this disaster, Kamehameha Schools is persistently supporting efforts to uplift the well-being of Maui residents, including subsidizing Pa Iwa Ola on their mission, providing therapeutic coloring books to day care facilities and working with Maui service providers to find balance in these tumultuous times.

During their 4-day visit, Pa Iwa Ola worked at the Kāʻanapali hub with Hui Hoʻomalu. Under kumu Enrick Ortiz Jr., they performed almost 100 lomi sessions, with many praising their services.

After their lomi session, one individual said, “I felt comfortable and safe and able to connect spiritually” while another complimented, “she gave me a new body; I felt the mana.”

Logan, who has also worked at Kamehameha Schools in various roles since 2014, was transformed by the trip. After a traumatic incident in her own life led her to the practice of lomilomi, she knows how impactful it can be. Whenever someone gets on her table, she understands that they are opening themselves to healing– and that takes immense trust.

“I want to make sure I am listening to their body and let Ke Akua guide my hands to really help this person,” Logan said.

As all of Hawaiʻi bands around the Valley Isle in support, KS' Hiʻialo Group is relying on the community to lead the conversation. In her role as a strategy consultant, Nāpua Rosehill focuses on boosting early learning initiatives across the islands.

“I firmly believe that you need to work with the people in the community and on the island, so they are able to tell us their needs and we can collaborate,” Rosehill said.

For Maui, she worked with the county's early childhood resource coordinator, Kaʻina Gouveia Bonacorsi KSK'92, to get 300 coloring books for families and service providers.

The book “Trinka and Sam: The Big Fire” follows a family of mice who lose their home in a fire. Published in 2017 in partnership with the Early Trauma Treatment Network and the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, it was created to help young children and families talk about their feelings after traumatic events.

Bonacorsi said one of her network's childcare workers noticed the preschoolers pretending to escape a fire during playtime. She immediately thought about how they can help providers recognize these behaviors and give keiki the tools to express themselves.

When she heard about “Trinka and Sam,” she had just printed it for review when a parent came into her office for another matter. The mākua explained that her 6-year-old son was not talking about the fires. Bonacorsi gave her the draft, hoping it might inspire something in the ʻohana.

It is yet to be seen what the impacts of this book will be but the longtime advocate knows that even if just one family is helped, then it has been successful.

“These babies were our COVID babies. Now, they are our fire babies,” Bonacorsi said. “They have to be resilient.”

Kalei Kailihiwa KSK'93, Kamehameha Schools community engagement director, worries about the mental health of Maui communities but believes that as more people become trauma-informed, they will be better able to cope. KS' work with partners like cultural healing practitioners and city departments can be a beacon of hope as Maui rebuilds.

“When we understand what the needs and interests of Hawaiian kids and families are and work with our partners on how to address it, that's how we rise to the occasion and the challenges that are coming,” Kailihiwa said.

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